Free Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools


My friend Victoria Twead is giving away the first of her hilarious New York Times bestselling Old Fools series, ‘Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools’ to any of my followers and their friends who’d like one. Over 300 5-star Amazon reviews!

Email me at, subject line “Chickens” for your free copy.
Old Fools series MR


The Day of the Jackal

On our recent safari to the beautiful, wonderful country of Kenya, we saw many great sights. All the ‘Big Five’, the crossings of the migration, glorious landscapes. Among the most memorable events, for me, was a heroic fight by a small jackal against a large flock of vultures trying to steal its meal. It successfully fought them off for 20 minutes, against all odds, until it had finished its meal.

All too often, when something exciting happened, I had the wrong camera settings and didn’t get shots as sharp as I would have liked. It happened here, but if you can overlook the poor photographic skills, you may enjoy the action.


As autumn begins to settle in, here in rural France the Kenyan sunshine seems a long way away, and a long time ago.

We’ve been back just over a fortnight, since when our feet have barely touched the ground. Heaps of paperwork, laundry, photographs and notes to sort, and don’t even mention the garden, a confection of rampant weeds and falling leaves. Oh, and falling walnuts that the dogs are digging out of the ivy and crunching up, which isn’t very good for their digestive systems, causing consequential unpleasantness.

I’ve an exercise book full of scribbled, cryptic notes, often written while bouncing on corrugated roads or lurching through rock-strewn rivers.


At the time they were written they must have meant something, but I am puzzling over hieroglyphics that say “Limea Brownie”. Or possible “Himea Brownie”. Answers on a postcard, please.

Here is the mighty elephant’s little cousin, the rock hyrax. Cute or what?


Crossing the Mara – the great migration across the East African plains

September 2015. One of the many crossings we witnessed during our safari. Great herds of wildebeeste, zebra and topi gathered on the banks, before plunging into the Mara river and charging to the other side.

It’s not very good quality, I’m afraid. It was a spur of the moment film taken with my camera which is not too well adapted for video, but I hope it gives an idea of the excitement of this event.

Crossing the Mara – the great migration from Susie Kelly on Vimeo.

Let’s begin at the end

Our safari is over. My head is spinning with sights, sounds, smells, faces, facts, images and ideas, and my computer’s  hard drive is filled with almost 300 GB of photos.


There is far too much to tell in a blog, so I thought I’d share our last day with you, the culmination of almost three weeks of pure thrills, adventure, excitement and joy. It was, like every other day of our safari, action packed.

We ended our journey together lunching on the hallowed lawns of historic and elegant Muthaiga Country Club, a bastion of colonial privilege established in 1913, where the early Kenyan settlers, farmers and visiting celebrities came to let their hair down secure in the knowledge that what went on within the club’s walls stayed there. Until 1964 the only black faces within the club belonged to the silent staff who ensured the comfort of the members.

Our tour leader and proprietor of AsYouLikeItSafaris, Vivien Prince, invited all the safari clients, our four drivers Kamara, David, Dedan and Steve, Herman the CEO of AsYouLikeItSafaris – who ensures the smooth running of the safaris from the office while Vivien is on the road – together with his wife and children, Philemon who is also responsible for support from the office, Peter, the brilliant young university student whose education Vivien has sponsored, and Paul, the taxi driver with the gentle smile who is permanently on hand to cope with the logistics of moving people and luggage around the booming city of Nairobi.

One thing above all others that made this safari such a success was the bond formed between all the people involved, both staff and clients. We have all shared spectacular sights, moments of high drama, tears of laughter, personal stories, powerful emotions, sweets, biscuits, music and affection. Our lunch was bitter-sweet, knowing that we had reached the parting of the ways, but also knowing that we have so many new friends.

Earlier in the morning I had almost been squashed by an elephant. Fortuitously, our great driver Dedan who had ensured our safety throughout the safari was at hand and swooped me out of the way. :) Please note that I did not drop my camera and managed to continue filming. :)

Nearly squashed by an elephant (at the 16 second mark )from Susie Kelly on Vimeo.

Then we went on to Nairobi’s Ngando slum to visit the Hope Streams Academy, where many of the pupils don’t even own a pair of shoes, and many are lucky to have one meal a day. But while they lack in comfort they have talent in abundance, both artistically and academically, being high achievers. Here’s a short video of them dancing and singing for us.

So our safari took us from the heights of luxury at 5-star hotels and camps to the depths of human poverty. I am sure that each of us who sat down to that beautiful lunch still carried images in our minds of the Hope Streams children. I kept seeing the little girl on the extreme left of the video, dancing in her outsize black men’s shoes, no socks.

Just a box of chalk or a packet of pencils makes a difference to these children and the teachers working with them. Their address is on their website.

There may be photos of Kenyan people, scenery and wildlife appearing on the blog over the next few weeks. :)

My Big Fat Greek Holiday (3)

Disillusioned by our experience in Kos, our next destination was Crete, the island where Ianni was born and which he had extolled frequently. “Ah, Kriti, it is the most beautiful island in the world,” he had assured us. We decided to find out if that was true.

We booked a fortnight in a shared villa in Chania, a short distance from the harbour. The villa was named after El Greco, who had, reputedly, lived there back in the mists of time.

A little back story is in order here. At the time TOH was a senior branch manager for a relatively newly-formed ‘financial services’ company. The supreme head was a friend of 20 years standing, a warm, funny man. TOH’s contract with the company stipulated that he was entitled to six weeks holiday each year. The job of a branch manager was a demanding one of 10-hour days, 6 days a week, under pressure to deliver results. Weekends were frequently taken up with obligatory meetings and motivational activities. The company owned its managers lock, stock and smoking barrels, and we hadn’t had a holiday in two years.

When TOH announced that we had booked two weeks away, all hell was let loose. I won’t bore you with lengthy details of the negotiations that ensued, but it came down to the fact that if we did go away for two weeks, TOH would find his contract terminated. So off we went, at the beginning of September when the weather in Crete would be at its best.

Chania is a spectacularly pretty town, and the El Greco villa was quaint and comfortable.

Our fellow guests were a lively couple of our age, who had the room below us. On the same floor as us were another couple. There was a wife, but we only saw her once as she popped her head out of the door as we were going past, and quickly retreated like a high-speed tortoise retracting into its carapace.

In glorious sunshine we explored the town, the harbour, the restaurants, visited the beach where Zorba was filmed, and walked the gorgeous Samaria gorge. Kriti was indeed very beautiful, just as Ianni had said.

Chania harbour - Wikimedia

Chania harbour – Wikimedia

Samaria Gorge - Wikimedia

Samaria Gorge – Wikimedia

The hot water in our villa was entirely produced by solar power, which was fine when the solar was working. However, on the 5th day we awoke in the night to lashing rain and a soaking bed. Water was gushing through the ceiling. The room was small, and no matter where we put the bed, the water hit it. We laid some plastic bags beneath the cascade, but the noise of the water sploshing onto them made sleep impossible. It was suddenly very cold.

Next morning, bleary-eyed, we shared breakfast with the lively couple, Rich and Helen. The street outside was an ankle-deep fast flowing stream. There was no hot water, and would not be for the remaining nine days. During a brief break in the downpour, the four of us paddled down to the sea front. The sea had climbed out of its bed and taken up residence on the harbour and in the restaurants, piling heaps of seaweed against the buildings. The restaurants were under water and closed, their awnings ripped, plastic chairs and tables strewn among the seaweed. We made our way uphill, to a museum, where we examined shards of pottery with Greek labels. The local cinema was showing Rambo; in Greek. It was bitterly cold.

We bought a carpet to put over our bed to keep warm. And a large plastic sheet to keep the rain off, and a load of towels to heap onto the plastic to deaden the sound.

There really wasn’t much to do in Chania, in the relentless pouring rain, but we were all keen readers with a good supply of books, so we settled down in the lounge with mugs of coffee and a plate of biscuits, wrapped in our warmest clothes, and sat reading in companionable silence.

“Did you know,” said a voice from the doorway “that there are at least 10,000 species of spiders in Australia?”

Lots of these in Australia!

It was our neighbour from the first floor, husband of the reclusive wife. A portly man, with a long beard.

Common politeness meant that we all laid down our books and introduced ourselves. We learned that our new friend was a tax inspector *Mutual Flinch*, and a leading member of, and evangelist for The Church of Sweet Running Waters. He talked at great length of the church, which didn’t have an organ but everybody in the congregation shook tambourines and clashed cymbals, both large and finger-sized, or tinkled little bells. He invited us to join him for prayers, which we all politely declined. Moving on from the church, he gave a talk on how the tax system had changed over the years, oblivious to our stony silence.

Rich broke the spell by jumping up and saying it was time for lunch. We followed suit, and heedless of the swirling stream around our ankles and wet stair rods belting down on us, we almost ran uphill in search of somewhere to eat. Installed in the furthest, darkest corner of one of the few tavernas that was open, as we were ordering Rich groaned, “Oh, for goodness sake.” Peering through the rain-lashed window was the tax inspector. He raised his hand and came over to our table, pulling up a chair. “I thought I’d lost you,” he said. “Been looking everywhere. But seek and ye shall find: Matthew 7:7.”

This formed the pattern for the rest of our stay. Cold, wet, leaking roof, stalked by a religious maniac. We never saw the wife, but in our efforts to avoid him Rich would tap gently on the ceiling of their room, signalling that it was time for us to tiptoe downstairs and go to find somewhere to eat in peace. Sometimes it worked, but mostly the tax inspector/evangelist would track us down, never doubting his presence was welcome.

One morning, lying in the small bed, listening to the irritating plopping of the rain onto the towels, TOH gave a little sigh and said: “I gave up a perfectly good job for this.” :D

The drachma was devalued. Suddenly our spending power was vastly increased. But there was nothing to spend it on. You can only eat so much food.

Wiki Commons

We decided to try to escape from Kriti, and went to a local travel agency to book a flight home. There was nothing available. We were too late. The more desperate holiday-makers had already left.

Despite the tax inspector/evangelist, the cold and the rain, we enjoyed our holiday. Good company, good books and a sense of humour passed the time pleasantly until our departure. The Cretan people we met during our forays out into the tempest were charming, kind and sympathetic, embarrassed by the failure of their climate.

When we arrived in Heraklion for our homebound flight, it was snowing. The flight was delayed for several hours. A woman in front of me in the queue turned around and glared. In a loud voice she said: “Bloody hell, that woman behind me stinks of garlic. Disgusting.” People turned and stared. I was past caring.

You can never have too much garlic! Wiki Commons

You can never have too much garlic!
Wiki Commons

At home, there was an envelope on the doormat. TOH no longer had a job. :D


Can’t find where to attribute this image – sorry!

Would we ever go back to Crete again? A million times yes. Maybe not in September. And maybe somewhere with electric water heating.

We still had one more Big Fat Greek Holiday up our sleeves. ;)